Russia Is Barred From Women’s Euros and 2023 World Cup
Russia was ejected from this summer’s European women’s soccer championship and barred from qualifying for the 2023 Women’s World Cup on Monday, deepening a sporting isolation that resulted from the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
UEFA, the governing body for soccer in Europe, announced its decisions Monday. In addition to barring Russia’s team from the two biggest competitions in women’s soccer, the governing body said it had suspended all Russian national teams and clubs from UEFA competitions until further notice.
Russian clubs were also barred from all UEFA competitions — including the Champions League, the richest club competition in soccer — for the 2022-23 season.
The punishments had previously been applied most prominently to Russian men’s teams, tossing Russia out of qualifying for this year’s World Cup in Qatar when it needed only two more wins to earn a place in the field and ejecting a Russian club, Spartak Moscow, from the knockout rounds of the Europa League.
Russia’s women had missed two World Cup qualifiers in April as a result of the earlier ban on its teams, but UEFA had postponed a decision on its participation at the women’s Euros, which open in July in England. Now, with the event approaching and many countries on record saying they would not play against a Russian team, it was left with little choice.
Portugal will replace Russia at the European Championship, taking its place in a group that includes two of the tournament favorites — the Netherlands and Sweden — as well as Switzerland. Russia had defeated Portugal in a playoff to qualify for the event.
Several international sports leagues and organizations have dropped Russia and Russian athletes from competition since the country’s invasion of Ukraine in February, in sports as varied as tennis, soccer, auto racing and track and field. Last week, Russia was stripped of the hosting rights for next year’s world ice hockey championships.
Russia has vowed to fight some of the punishment against its teams and athletes at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland, the body responsible for adjudicating disputes in sports. (It has nearly a dozen complaints filed with the court already.) And not everyone has agreed with blanket bans on Russian athletes.
After Wimbledon, under pressure from the British government, confirmed that it would not allow Russian and Belarusian players to participate in the grass-court tennis tournament this summer, the governing bodies for the men’s and women’s tours both expressed concern about the decision.
The ATP, which runs the men’s tour, called it “unfair” and said it had “the potential to set a damaging precedent for the game.”
The WTA, which oversees the women’s tour, said: “Individual athletes should not be penalized or prevented from competing due to where they are from or the decisions made by the governments of their countries. Discrimination, and the decision to focus such discrimination against athletes competing on their own as individuals, is neither fair nor justified.”
On Sunday, the top men’s players Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal added their voices to the criticism.
“It’s not their fault what’s happening in this moment with the war,” Nadal, a 21-time Grand Slam winner, said in Spain, calling some of the affected players “my Russian teammates, my colleagues.”
“I’m sorry for them,” Nadal said. “Wimbledon just took their decision. The government didn’t force them to do it.”